Defendants in a Wrongful Death Suit and Compensation Liability

Wrongful death lawsuits are civil actions designed to put the family of a person who was killed back into the financial position they would have been in if the death had not been caused by the defendant’s negligence or intentional act. Wrongful death suits are common when motor vehicle fatalities occur, and in other situations where someone else’s improper actions lead to a death.

What is Wrongful Death Litigation?

The law recognizes that people owe each other a duty not to cause harm. This means if a wrongful death defendant behaves in a negligent way and that leads to someone else’s death, the wrongful death defendant has breached a legal duty. In some cases, especially with intentional acts that lead to death, the wrongful death defendant has also committed a criminal act and may be prosecuted in criminal court. A civil wrongful death action is distinct from a criminal action and is brought by wrongful death survivors to recover damages caused by the death.

Damages Liable by the Defendant

Wrongful death damages usually include any expenses or lost income that arose from the death. For example, most wrongful death defendants who are found liable will have to pay:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical bills
  • The loss of income the deceased person would have produced but for the death
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship

In some cases, especially if the action was intentional or so reckless it was almost guaranteed to injure someone, the wrongful death defendants will also have to pay punitive damages. However, not all jurisdictions allow punitive damages in wrongful death litigation.

Help from a Wrongful Death Lawyer

If you have questions about bringing a wrongful death case or the potential damages available in a wrongful death lawsuit, you should consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney. If you have concerns about the taxation of a wrongful death settlement, a wrongful death attorney or an experienced tax attorney can provide you with the help you need to make an educated and informed choice about settling your claim.

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